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SFWA Sues Individuals, Corporations, Nations And God For Copyright Violations

April 1, 2011

At a press conference held today in New York City, helmed by John Scalzi, President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, his Vice-president Mary Robinette Kowal, and a brace of lawyers from the firm Schachner Harness Harshaw & Ming the Merciless, it was announced that SFWA has launched several dozen simultaneous lawsuits aimed at protecting the intellectual properties of its authors, past and present. The defendants include lone citizens, large companies, several sovereign governments, and the Supreme Deity His/Her/Itself.

President Scalzi carefully explained both the nature of the litigation, and why SFWA felt compelled to act at this particular point in time. His presentation was helpfully illustrated by pictures of his pet dog, his office, sunsets, his daughter and wife, his book covers, a fantasy painting of him riding a gryphon, and images of several cats with bacon taped to their fur.

“Science fiction,” said Scalzi, “has always been known as the ‘literature of ideas.’ The allure of our kind of fiction -- our product line, if you will -- and its value in the marketplace is based to a large extent on the uniqueness and high quality of its intellectual heft. Our writer members work very hard at coming up with genuine speculative novelties, fresh extrapolations and visions of what might yet be, based on deep research into the historical record and state-of-the-art scientific advances. Or, at the very least, they might slickly repurpose old riffs that some Golden Age author invented. But in either case, we are talking about the tangible assets created by some individual writer.

“And now these intellectual properties are being shamelessly stolen, right down to specific plot twists.

“I am referring, of course, to the way that real life is coming to intentionally resemble more and more the most far-fetched and extravagant novels and stories of our field.

“Let me give you an example -- the final insult that caused SFWA to act.

“The current disaster in Japan is pure science fiction, copied without remorse from any number of famous works. Our lawyers have pinpointed exact passages from Wylie and Balmer’s When Worlds Collide, Heinlein’s “Blowups Happen,” del Rey’s Nerves, and Swanwick’s In the Drift that have been enacted in consensus reality without one iota of change or attribution. And that tsunami -- c’mon, guys, did you think we’d all forget the Golden Age Submariner and the watery cataclysm he unleashed on New York City? It would not surprise me if the next news we get out of Japan concerns a new generation of ‘Baldies’ being born. At which time the Kuttner-Moore estate has their legal paperwork ready to go.”

At this point in the conference, Vice-President Kowal explained that the litigants in this case included the Japanese government, the owners of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the Supreme Deity or any local deities up to and including Gaia who might have been responsible for tectonic plate movements, and any citizen of Japan who might have exclaimed during the crisis, “It’s the end of the world!”

Scalzi continued. “This is simply the most egregious suite of linked copyright violations to date. But there has been a steady cascade of offenses leading up to this point.

“We have sued Lady Gaga for her latest video ‘Born This Way,’ which blatantly rips off Jack Kirby, Olaf Stapledon, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Frank R. Paul. In addition, we have a separate suit against Lady Gaga contending that her entire persona is derived from the decadent Manhattan wasteland scenario of Fritz Leiber’s ‘Coming Attraction.’

“With its emphasis on drone warfare, the government of the United States is plainly embarked on a scenario straight out of Philip K. Dick. We are inching closer to his patented ‘Autofac’ future every minute.”

Kowal interjected, “We should mention that the literary estates of Dick and Ballard together account for over fifty percent of our lawsuits, given that the world seems most bent on replicating the novels and stories of these two writers.”

“I could go on,” resumed Scalzi, “with an item-by-item recital of the scores of copyright violations we have identified. One of our biggest claims is a class-action suit, ‘Cyberpunks vs. Apple, Google, Facebook, et. al.’ The case of ‘Spinrad vs. Beck, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and the Fox Network’ looks incontestable. And I believe I can convince Janet Asimov and Roomba to settle out of court.

“But whether we win or lose any particular case -- and I sincerely believe that the strength of our legal position is overwhelming in most instances -- these legal actions undertaken today by SFWA are essential and vital.

“We must teach the world to stop stealing from science fiction, and develop its own independent narratives. Otherwise, the planet will soon be remaindered faster than a John Twelve Hawks novel.”

(reported by special correspondent Paoli du Flippi)

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